This post is based on an interview we conducted with Matilda in June 2019.
Real Money Talk is our series where we interview Australians from all walks of life about their personal finances. The views expressed are those of the interviewees, based on their experiences with money, and as such are not necessarily representative of Spaceship's views.
We have changed the name of the interviewee for their privacy.
Where do you live: Hurlstone Park.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I work in insurance, I’m into pole dancing and pets, and food is my first love.
What is your current net worth?
Debt: $3,000 vet bills from [looking after] my cat and about $12,000 student debt.
Tell us a bit about your career:
At the moment, I work full-time for a life insurer; I’ve been there for two and a half years. I’ve been working full time for the last four years or so. I went straight from uni into full-time work.
Do you have income sources outside of your job?
What advice do you have for people who want to earn more money?
If you work for a large corporation, don’t let them exploit you under the guise of building your personal brand or [for] “exposure.”
Do you have a budget?
I kinda have a budget; I don’t really stick to it. My cat getting really sick recently threw a spanner in the works. Fortnightly I spend:
Pole membership: $100
Vet bills: $100 fortnight
Leisure: $100 to $150
Savings: I try to put at least $200 into my savings.
What is your savings rate? And how has it changed over time?
There have been times when I’ve saved more and less. One of my parents has been battling cancer for the past two years. There have been times I’ve saved a reasonable amount, then had to help them with the medical bills. There have also been times I’ve just not been adamant about saving.
How much do you spend per year?
I’d estimate $35,000.
Do you make purchase decisions carefully, or are you loose with your money?
I’m pretty flippant.
How is your work-life balance?
It’s changed in the last month or so. Previously, my job was quite intense and high pressure because a lot of the projects I was working on were under-resourced. My personal output was expected to be high quantity and high quality, and I wasn’t being paid appropriately. I’ve recently negotiated flexible working arrangements, and I’ve decreased some of the projects I was working on. I’ve decided that after this project (three months or so), if there isn’t a position with a title and package that I can move into seamlessly, I’ll leave the company and find something external. That decision, plus the flexible working arrangements, have definitely helped out.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to negotiate flexible working arrangements?
For context, I’ve seen a psychologist regularly for the past five years. I consider that general self-maintenance. If you’re seeing a mental health professional regularly, get them to write a recommendation outlining exactly what you want. Having a candid relationship with the person you’ll be presenting it to, and having a case prepared outlining your personal situation and the benefits to the business, will be a big help.
What is your favourite thing to spend money on?
The first thing would be food. After that, either clothes or brooches.
What has been your best investment?
Pole dancing! It’s great for my physical and mental wellbeing. Also my psychologist.
What has been your worst investment?
Dating people. Does that count? It’s a negative time investment.
How are you building wealth?
Just trying to save money from my salary, and manage my current working situation so I can be in a better financial position. I’m planning on either negotiating a better salary with the company I’m with or finding something better paid elsewhere. Long term, I’d like to take a pay cut and go back to uni part time but that’s not in the foreseeable future.
Do you have a target net worth or lifestyle you want?
I know this is ridiculous because objectively it’s achievable, but I just want to own a home, live comfortably, adopt some animals, and buy nice things sometimes. I grew up in a very unstable home, so financial security is pretty important to me. That’s why I’m working a job I don’t give a shit about. I think it’s important to most people who’ve had to deal with something like that. People who have an attitude of “money isn’t that big of a deal” probably grew up in a home where they didn’t have to think about money.
If you could start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t even know where to start. I would probably not have gone to uni when I did. I did part of two different degrees, then realised that neither really related to what I actually wanted to do. I think I internalised that attitude that equates success with tertiary education. When I was 18, I moved interstate. Also not a great idea. My advice would be to treat saving the same way you do bill money. Make it mandatory.
Do you have any worries about retirement? If so, how are you planning to address them?
Not at this point. Maybe in 30 years. I work full time so I know my super is being taken care of.
How are you learning about building wealth?
Really the only way I’ve learned about it is through intermittent work in financial services. I’ve picked up bits and pieces, but nothing specific. I also haven’t actively sought out information about it.
Do you give to charity? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?
Yes, not regularly. For example, I recently got my bonus at work and I donated some. I try to give to indigenous charities.